METEOROLOGICAL WINTER BRIGHTENED BY 567 HOURS OF SUNSHINE
- February was winter’s brightest month with 228 sunshine hours
- Air temperature ranged between 5.8°C and 25.8°C in winter
- Meteorological winter was drier than average – 141.0mm of rain collected
Having produced just 7.8mm of precipitation, rather than the expected 56.9mm, last February did not live up to its proverbial reputation of being a wet month. The month went down on record as the sixth driest February since 1923, closing off a dry meteorological winter during which 141.0mm of precipitation – a little more than half the expected seasonal rainfall – were collected.
While rainfall was in short supply, 567.4 hours of sunshine made for a brighter-than-average winter season. All three winter months were, in fact, sunnier than the norm, with February clocking up almost 46 hours of sunshine more than the quota for this time of year. A mean cloud cover of 2.6 oktas, which was lower than the monthly norm of 4.1 oktas, can be partly credited for the extra hours of sunshine enjoyed throughout February.
However, not all February days were sun-soaked. With a maximum cloud cover of 8 oktas maintained throughout most of the day, February 7th was an overcast and, consequently, sunless Sunday. On the same day, the month’s maximum air temperature of 21.8°C was recorded, shortly before an arctic air mass started moving towards the Mediterranean, eventually reaching the Maltese islands and bringing the temperature down to a minimum of 5.8°C on February 15th.
This temperature was also the lowest minimum for winter. On the other hand, the highest air temperature for the season was recorded on the ninth day in January at 25.8°C. All three winter months were warmer than expected, with December’s air temperature averaging at 15.3°C (norm: 14.3°C), January’s mean air temperature standing at 14.1°C (norm: 12.7°C), and February’s standing at 14.0°C (norm: 12.5°C).
Following a windier-than-expected December and January, whose average wind speeds stood at 10.4 knots and 10.8 knots respectively, February breezed in with calmer weather. Averaging at 9.3 knots, the wind speed for the month was slightly lower than the norm of 9.5 knots. February’s maximum gust was recorded on the eighth day of the month, blowing at 41 knots from a north-westerly direction.